Monday, May 7, 2012

180-Year-Old Vermont General Store In Barnard Closing

The bad economy combined with the effects of climate-change exacerbated weather disasters helped kill off a Vermont store that had been in business since Old Hickory was in the White House. Here is the Burlington Free Press with the details:
The Barnard General Store in central Vermont is closing its doors on Tuesday after 180 years in business.

Owners Carolyn DiCicco and Kim Furlong say years of financial losses and 60-hour weeks have taken their toll.

The closing of the store that opened when Andrew Jackson was president, where for generations people have gone for news, food, more recently Internet service and the greater connection to each other and the community is more than just the closing of a business. It's located on the shore of Silver Lake at the intersection of state Route 12 and two town roads.

"It belongs to the town. It's a community place," DiCicco said.

DiCicco and her ex-husband bought the store 18 years ago after moving from Massachusetts with their two children, ages 10 and 12. Two years later, Furlong, a Maine native who likewise had moved to Barnard with a family, came on board. The two women now own the store together.

In 2004 the building and land were sold to another Barnard resident for $450,000. The cash helped dig the store out of a hole, DiCicco said. In 2008, a group of residents explored turning it into a co-op.

While the store struggled, it was Tropical Storm Irene and the nearly snow-less winter that pushed the store over the edge. The flooding made the town hard to reach and foliage season was a bust. Then the lack of snow kept away the snowmobilers, skiers and ice fishermen.
And so it goes.

Bonus: In tribute to the Barnard General Store, a song by the band Vermont


  1. Just as the planet's flora and fauna have been stressed, due to the effects of Homo sapiens, and are now, therefore, inflexible and susceptible to changes they would have been able to overcome previously, so are businesses stressed, due to financial obligations, and are now unable to overcome variations in commerce that they would previously have had the reserves to overcome.
    Increasing complexity leads to increasing rigidity which increases the likelihood of breakdown.

  2. I hope Bill doesn't mind my posting this video of fall foliage from last year -which was a bust everywhere - and it's going to be that way until either the trees are all dead, or we wise up and stop polluting the atmosphere before they're all gone.

    1. Not at all, Gail. From seeing the difference in recent years during my fall trips to upstate New York, I was thinking that the lack of color was probably more the culprit as much as Tropical Strom Irene.

  3. Typical greenies, always blame the changing climate and human activity for everything. The truth is, the population of Barnard was just under 1000 people back in 2000. I'll bet its under 900 today. You don't have enough people living in the area to keep the store alive.

    And with all of your talk about the evils of CO2, people don't want to drive cars or snowmobiles as much anymore. Emitting CO2 while driving is how they get to your store.

    Its like newspapers, up until a couple of years ago they were reporting that we had to stop chopping down trees to save the planet, so people stopped buying newspapers to stop the chopping down of trees. Many papers went out of business, they only exist on the web now. You don't see newspapers reporting about the evils of chopping trees much anymore do you. I think they learned a good lesson that time.

  4. Sad to say, a great number of businesses are going to be caught by the coming changes. If the problems related to climate change helped cause the shutdown (no color,floods, whatever - ), then what is causing climate change - just precisely the non-local business - those who drive snowmobiles, drive in for the fall colors, etc.

    Many aspects of our lives will be changing, in the not-too-distant future. And it won't just be the folks in Africa, India, and the small island states who suffer, although it may hit them first and hardest.

  5. I believe people do not know the whole truth about the closing of the store and the people who ran it. They did not own it. The store seemed to survive during the great depression. You have to know how to run a business in order for it to survive. I haven't been in the store for years because of the people who ran it.

  6. I have lived in Barnard for 45 years now. The Barnard General Store has been going down hill for the past 18 years. The town has put money into the sore time and time again, and they keep on asking for more to keep the doors open. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ALL THAT MONEY? They have not paid rent for the past 8 yrs and they have had fund raisers to help the store out. What have they done with the money that they have gotten from senior citizens estates?


  7. I have lived in Barnard since 1976, and have watched the Barnard General Store go through many different owners. I, too, have not been in the store for many years. The two owners decided early on to run the store with a certain political perspective. They attracted people who agreed with their views and alienated a great number of previously loyal customers who did not feel comfortable there. Not a very smart way to run a successful business.

  8. I have to agree with the comments asserting that it was poor business acumen, judgment and a lack of the capability to manage, combined with a dwindling market and demand for the store that caused it to close. As for climate change, I've been alive for 62 years now, and I've seen winters, cold winters, very cold winters, not so cold winters and warm winters (relatively speaking) throughout my lifetime. Those who absolutely insist that we humans are destroying the planet consist of a population of individuals who have yet to pass the age of 45, or are older but maleducated, leftwing, generally socialist, self-hating human beings. Well, they hate everyone outside of Vermont who they blame for what's wrong with their world.